Super Bowl 52 was not the only thing that came to an end when Tom Brady's final Hail Mary attempt fell incomplete. The New England Patriots' 41-33 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles also marks the end of an era for the five-time world champions as both coordinators – Josh McDaniels on the offensive side and Matt Patricia on defense – are expected to leave the club to pursue head coaching opportunities.
McDaniels and Patricia served in their respective roles since 2012 and have helped the Patriots reach three Super Bowls and win two titles, after the 2014 and the 2016 seasons. Now, the duo is on its way out of Foxboro and will likely fill the voids in Indianapolis (McDaniels) and Detroit (Patricia). As a result, they will create openings of their own. How the Patriots will fill them is up in the air – as is how the team will address and handle other potential moves on the coaching staff.
Will wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea replace McDaniels or will somebody else? Will linebacker coach Brian Flores be promoted to defensive coordinator? Or will Ohio State's Greg Schiano be the successor to Patricia? And how about special teams coach Joe Judge, whose contract will expire in the upcoming weeks, and who is a candidate to join Patricia with the Lions?
All those questions are part of a larger web of uncertainties New England is headed towards after its Super Bowl defeat: Changes will certainly follow in the upcoming weeks and months. The coaching staff is not the only area of the team that will look drastically different the next time the AFC champions will take the field for offseason workouts and later training camp.
After all, the Patriots also have a long list of unrestricted free agents – one that includes core members of the team such as left tackle Nate Solder, running backs Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, wide receiver Danny Amendola, cornerback Malcolm Butler (who likely will not return after his benching during the Super Bowl), and core special teamers Matthew Slater and Nate Ebner.
After losing the Super Bowl, the Patriots could also lose multiple of their key players in the upcoming weeks. All while speculation about tight end Rob Gronkowski, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady will likely continue even though it would be a huge surprise if not all three men return for the 2018 season.
But while all the speculation is only that – speculation –, New England is still entering a busy offseason: A defense which started and ended the season on a low note needs to be addressed. A possible successor for Brady needs to be scouted and drafted. A championship-caliber 2017 team needs to be transitioned into a 2018 unit that is able to make another run at the title.
Over the past two decades, the Patriots have shown that they are able to adapt unlike any other NFL franchise. They will need to do it again now. And despite all the chatter surrounding the team, its owner and head coach and some of its most prominent players, this time will likely be no different. In the end, New England will do what it always did amidst all the uncertainty: its job.